Garden cover crops slash green manures come in lots of shapes and sizes and varieties. One of my favorite is Buckwheat.

You can plant it, grow it and have it incorporated back into the soil within a month if need be. The official recommended timing is 35-40 days, but in some cases I haven’t had that much time, and there was plenty of growth available. It’s a quick, lush grower. The seeds are easy to broadcast because they’re relatively big…


Buckwheat isn’t a nitrogen fixer like legumes or hairy vetch, but its fibrous roots pull up phosphorus, calcium and minerals to be used by your next generation of greenery. It gets tall quickly, and then tops itself off with white flowers that tell you it’s time to murder it and bury its remains. There’s plenty of growth to turn under or leave as mulch, even after just three weeks if you’re in a rush.

It does a fantastic job of shading out unwanted spring or summer weeds, because it sprouts quickly and grows fast. I plant buckwheat in sections of the garden where earlier vegetables are finished producing. And you can use it in Spring to add organic matter and keep weeds in check until you plant your warm-weather crops. It won’t take frost, but since it matures so quickly you have some extra leeway.

buckwheat plant

I get my buckwheat seed from Johnny’s, 1 pound of organic goodness for less than $6. Seeding rate is 2-3 lbs./1000 square feet, but since I just spot-plant, I still have seed left over from the fall sewing to start out the spring garden from just the single pound.

It’s nice to have on-hand. Maybe add a little to that outrageously long seed order that you haven’t placed yet?

16 thoughts on “buckwheat

  1. I used a mix of oats and 4010 peas as my cover crop last year and plan to do again this year. We need the nitrogen from a legume. Last year was my first experiment with a cover crop. Too early to tell with what result but the theory is encouraging. (And you needn’t be quite so smug – I HAVE placed my seed order. So there.)

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    • Haha Trish, it’s a natural state it’s me. I hope to experiment with other cover crops like oats this year too. Last fall I planted a blend that had some field peas in it along with Hairy Vetch for nitrogen fixing. I do love the thought of another easy source of nitrogen in the garden!

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    • Buckwheat wouldnt be good for overwintering Deby, but there are mixes svailable with winter rye that would stay green through the snow. Cats have a way of findind the worst spots to claim, dont they?


  2. Can you leave it to go to seed for harvesting for the next year? I have some growing and it’s been a few months now. Not sure when to chop it all up. I also have peas, oats and rye grass all mixed together.


    • I’ve never done that James, and most things I’ve read recommend cutting at flowering stage. It will reseed itself, but if you don’t mind the thought of some buckwheat in your next seasons’s crops, I don’t think it would matter. It’s not hard to pull out.

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  3. OK, I’ve been a recent follower/lurker. Time to step up and let you know I find your posts interesting and informative.

    I have three raised beds and it sounds like they might benefit from buckwheat. And worms. And leaves. And mulch. 🙂 I haven’t been gardening for very long and would like to do better. By the way – I’m on the other side of the state (zone 6b).

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    • Thank you Marsha! That’s very much appreciated. And lurk to your heart’s content…I don’t mind you peeking through the windows. 🙂

      Maybe I’ll learn something from your experiences in the garden too.


  4. Love your thoughts on Buckwheat, Dan. We broadcast it after summer’s harvest of cucurbits. It blooms and dies back with frost and makes a pretty good ground cover that helps with winter erosion. Then, in spring it has re-seeded itself and grows until about 50% bloom when it is turned under early enough to decay before planting tomatoes. Works pretty good. We pay $10.00 for five pounds (plus shipping) from http://www.heavenlyseed.net

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